Tue, Oct 2, 2018 to Tue, Nov 6, 2018
7:30 - 9:00 pm


590 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Era A. Loewenstein, Ph.D.
CE Credits: 
Participant Limit: 

$315 General Public
$225 Full Members
$198 CMH Members
$180 Associate Members
$135 Student Members
$135 Scholarship (prior approval required to register at this fee)

Tuition listed above is for early registration ($40 discount off full fee, $15 discount for NCSPP Student Members). For registrations received after the deadline, full tuition will be applied to all registrations.

Tuition does not include the cost of readers.

Early Registration Deadline: 
September 18, 2018
NCSPP offers online course registration and payment using PayPal, the Internet’s most trusted payment processor. All major credit cards, as well as checking account debit payments, are accepted.


Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Totalitarian States of Mind

Course Overview: 

We are currently witnessing the rise of fascist-like leaders globally, and, most alarmingly, in Europe as well as our own country. We observe how these leaders and their adherents collude to form basic assumption groups that could swiftly undermine our western democratic values and institutions.

In this seminar, we will explore various psychoanalytic contributions that can enhance our understanding of the totalitarian states of mind that spark these dangerous movements. We will consider how omnipotence and grandiosity can take over the personality, obviating guilt and trumping healthy uncertainty, which leads to the formation of psychotic-like totalitarian states of mind. We will consider racism and propaganda as they relate to these states — marked by narcissistic, perverse, and psycho­pathic features. We will consider these tyrannical states at the individual and the group level by discussing selected readings by Hannah Arendt, Herbert Rosenfeld, Christopher Bollas, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, Roger Money-Kyrle, and by the instructor.

Course Objectives: 
  • After reading and discussing Herbert Rosenfeld’s 1971 paper on Destructive Narcissism, participants will be able to describe the the relationship between destructive narcissism and totalitarian states of mind.
  • Participants will be able to explain what Chasseguet-Smirgel meant when she suggested that perversion involves an attempt to eradicate reality. They will be able to give two examples, clinical or political that exemplify how a perverse attack on truth and reality is related to totalitarian states of mind.
  • After reading Nick Temple’s 2006 article, participants will be able to describe what Temple means when he wrote that maintaining a totalitarian state of mind is based on the perpetual need to project guilt into enemies and victims both in the internal world and in the political world.
  • Participants will be able to describe how totalitarian solutions are used both internally and politically as defenses against experiencing helplessness and vulnerability while projecting into opponents and victims experiences of weakness and failure.
  • Participants will be able to list at least three powerful drives, emotions or anxieties that can lead the internal world to lose its parliamentary quality and tip toward establishing a totalitarian state of mind.
  • ​Participants will be able to describe what it means when we say that the basic weapon of a fascistic state of mind is the destruction of the concept of truth and the internal experience of trust in a protective maternal imago.
Empirical Reference: 

Bornstein, Robert F. (Ed); Masling, Joseph M. (Ed). (1998). Empirical perspectives on the psychoanalytic unconscious. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. xxviii 291.


Era A. Loewenstein, Ph.D., is an adult, adolescent, and child psychoanalyst and a training and supervising analyst at SFCP. Era is on the faculty of SFCP, NCSPP, and Access Institute. Her most recent article, “Dystopian Narratives: Encounters with the Perverse Sadomasochistic Universe,” was published in The Psychoanalytic Inquiry in 2017. 

Target Audience & Level: 

This course is offered to intermediate and advanced mental health professionals and academics interested in psychoanalytic perspective. It requires participants to have familiarity with the basic principles and terminology of psychoanalytic theory and technique. Some clinical experience is recommended.

Cancellation & Refund Policies: 

Enrollees who cancel at least SEVEN DAYS prior to the event date will receive a refund minus a $35 administrative charge. No refunds will be allowed after this time.  Transfer of registrations are not allowed.

Contact Information: 

For program related questions contact Julia Conant at or 415-857-4885.

For questions related to enrollment, locations, CE credit, special needs, course availability and other administrative issues contact Michele McGuinness by email or 415-496-9949.

Education Committee

The Education Committee is responsible for the development of a variety of courses and workshops given throughout the year in San Francisco and the East Bay.

Shannon Rogers, MFT, Chair
Stephanie Chen, Ph.D.
Julia Conant, Psy.D.
Morgan Lloyd, LCSW
Cameron Murphey, MFTi
Anna Zozulinsky, MS